Multiple variants / BOM handling

I’d like to ask, how do you handle multiple manufacturing variants based on common documentation?
E.g. I do have some projects that can be manufacured e.g. to full specification (all components mounted) and some derived variants (where some are DNP).
Or situation even more complicated, where there are different comopnent subsets for different variants.
Right now I see two ways, and neither is satisfactory:
– keep variants as separate projects:
the main CON is I need to manually propagate changes to all variants.

– keep most “pimped up” version in schematic and use additional part fields for alternatives
main CON is, the schematic becomes hard to read as one cannot easily see how a particular variant is built; then BOM export based on custom fields is also non straighforward (where I want to keep my private component IDs for easy sourcing/generating manufacturing documentations).

MY dream solution would be a EESCHEMA feature, to “display schematic as…” where I could select my defined variants. Kind of visual studio language versions handling, if I switch my designed form locale I see the form displayed using particular language resources.
If I add a variant to particular schematic I could adjust their properties, but these changes would apply to my selected variant ONLY. E.g. after switching to base variant, I would see original schematic. After changing to a derived variant I could see SOME components changed values etc. and some for example not displayed (if they are DNP for that variant).
What’s your opinion on that matter?

Until now I create a variant field that is recognized by both: Interactive Html Plugin and KiCost.
For example, some parts with the variant = usb are just add to the BOM spreadsheet by kicost -i %FILE.xml% --variant usb command and also can be easy removed in the Interactive BOM Plugin Graphical Interface.

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I do this using versioning control (Mercurial), where I keep the full featured version as my main branch and I do named branches for the derivatives.

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